No rental license? Your time’s up

Landlords who operate outside the law will be fined, maybe shut down

COVINGTON, Ky. – Time is running out for landlords who are refusing to obtain the required rental dwelling license.

The City of Covington has begun issuing citations and $250 fines to property owners who rent out their housing – either on a long-term or short-term basis – and have ignored repeated warnings to register their property.

If those citations are ignored, City ordinance allows the City to order the property vacated.

“We’ve given property owners every opportunity to follow the rules, and some have ignored not only the initial instruction but also second-chance warnings,” Code Enforcement Manager Walt Mace said. “Their refusal will have financial consequences.”

The licenses have a nominal cost – ranging from $30 for a single-unit parcel and rising to $150 for 100-plus units – are good for three years, are available online, and require an inspection. (Short-term rental licenses, a la the Airbnb model, must be obtained annually.)

The licensing system protects tenants and neighbors by allowing the City to keep track of its rental units and use required inspections to ensure that those units are kept safe and sanitary (inspections don’t target cosmetic issues or minor repairs).

It’s an outgrowth of comprehensive new rules adopted by the Board of Commissioners more than a year ago that also streamlined the process for landlords by making the license less expensive, lessened the frequency in which landlords had to apply, and moved from a “punitive” approach to a “compliance” approach.

“We made the system easier and less burdensome to navigate, and most landlords responded – as the majority of them typically do – by cooperating and following the rules,” Mace said. “But there are others who apparently want their fellow landlords to pick up the tab for compliance, and we have neither the time, resources, and patience to mess with them any longer.”

Licenses for both long-term rentals and short-term rentals (of 29 days or less) are available HERE. Because renting out property is a business, landlords must also obtain an occupational license, HERE.

 The City adopted the new streamlined permitting process at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, with the application for the new licenses required by April 15, 2021.

Since that time, 1,800 rental licenses have been issued, and 2,000 licenses are in the application stage, Mace said. (Because of the magnitude of new applications, the City phased in the initial inspection requirement.)

But at least 300 landlords have ignored notices to apply for a license, Mace said. And, based on previous records, an additional 1,200 properties may be flying under the radar. No property owner will be fined until they receive at least one notice, he said.

The fines assessed will be $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second, and $750 for the third, plus the cost of the license. If those don’t work, the City is allowed to order the property be vacated.

“We created a system that helps keep housing safe and sanitary for renters while keeping the red tape for property owners to a minimum,” Mace said. “But that requires compliance.”


Anybody with questions can call Code Enforcement at (859) 292-2167 or Code Enforcement Manager Walt Mace at (859) 292-2143.

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